Paper on climate change and gender-based violence draws mixed reactions

Information and Research Center at King Hussein Foundation
(Photo: Information and Research Center at King Hussein Foundation Facebook)
AMMAN — The research paper “Climate Change and Gender-Based Violence in Jordan”, by the Information and Research Center at King Hussein Foundation , has elicited mixed reactions from activists and sociologists. اضافة اعلان

The US State Department-funded paper warned of "increasing risks of violence against women and girls in Jordan, due to the effects of climate change", Al-Ghad News quoted the paper as saying.

The paper stated that "women and girls may be forced to migrate to camps, where living under temporary fabrics or plastic sheeting can expose them to attacks from strangers. Many essential services provided to women and girls, such as reproductive health care, education, social protection, and responding to gender-based violence, will be disrupted by climate disasters”.

"Climatic events affect the natural resources needed for women and girls to earn a living and support their families, which push some of them to engage in negative coping mechanisms to secure a livelihood," according to the paper, which gave child marriage as an example of such “negative coping mechanisms adopted by families to reduce the effects of extreme poverty”.

Iman Aqrabawi, a Jordan River Foundation intervention services manager, told Jordan News that extreme events caused by climate change apply to different countries, and not to Jordan alone.

Aqrabawi said that part of the paper is about women all over the world, and part about women in developing countries, where many women work in the agricultural sector.
Climatic events affect the natural resources needed for women and girls to earn a living and support their families, which push some of them to engage in negative coping mechanisms to secure a livelihood,
“Jordan is not yet impacted by climate change in a way that would affect women,” she said.

Still, she said, the UN report shows that 80 percent of those impacted by climate change are women.

When poverty increases due to climate change, women are often forced to quit their education or to get married “due to poverty and climate change”, Aqrabawi said.

"Climate change does not only have economic consequences on women; they can be subjected to abuse and violence. Therefore, we should benefit from the paper even if it does not apply," Aqrabawi said. 

Women, she said, and should be empowered “to have an active role in facing any drastic impacts caused by climate change".

Emy Dawud, feminist, human rights activist, and founder of the Women's Movement Foundation, told Jordan News that women are the most affected group when a crisis occurs, adding that "I noticed it during my volunteer work with victims of wars and poverty".

Dawud said that climate change could prevent women from having access to health services, which “makes it difficult for them to control their reproduction and access contraceptives and medical services necessary to complete pregnancy and childbirth, increasing maternal mortality”.

She also said that it is difficult for women to access protection systems, “especially in light of their lack of knowledge of the laws of the host countries and the customs of their societies, which puts them in isolation and raises the danger around them”.

According to Executive Director of Dibeen for Environmental Development Hala Murad, the paper does not represent the Jordanian reality and “relied on testimonies from individuals who were not experts on the topic”.

"Whoever wrote this research paper is not aware of what is happening in Jordan. The paper for me is general and appropriates different realties to the Jordanian one," she said.

Murad said that water shortage is a “most pressing issue affecting Jordanian women's well-being”, adding that “there is a lack of legislation that protects female farmers from climate or environmental dangers, besides their lack of knowledge about the risks of working in harsh weather conditions”.

"Some would think that the rise in temperatures would negatively influence the man's behavior and result in him hitting his wife, but it is not how it goes; if this happened, it would be a rare case. We cannot say that there is an increase in violence against women because of the increase in temperatures, but we can say that as a result of cramped living conditions that is connected to climate change," Murad said.

As for the issue of child marriage resulting from poverty caused by climate change, Murad said that Jordanians do not have the culture to marry girls young to avoid financial expenses; “young girls get married due to traditional and cultural circumstances, not for environmental reasons”, she said.

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